The luck of the draw was simply not on Taylor Townsend’s side when the 2014 U.S. Open schedule was released.
The American wild card will face off against Serena Williams on Tuesday in the opening match for each competitor with hopes of knocking off the world’s No. 1 ranked player. Unfortunately for Townsend, Williams has grander goals in mind.
Williams has 17 Grand Slam titles under her belt and is one away from tying Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova for fourth-most all time. An 18th major would also pull Williams four behind Steffi Graf and 11 clear of the closest active player, her sister Venus.
However, Williams has not advanced past the fourth round of a Grand Slam yet this year after losing to Ana Ivanovic in the fourth round of the Australian Open, Garbine Muguruza in the second round of the French Open and Alize Cornet in the third round of Wimbledon.
What’s more, Williams could face Sam Stosur in the round of 16, Ivanovic in the quarterfinals, Eugenie Bouchard in the semifinals and Maria Sharapova in the finals if each was to advance that far. The road to that potential 18th Grand Slam and redemption for her struggles at majors thus far in 2014 won’t be easy.
Don’t let the subpar play at the Grand Slams fool you, though. We are still talking about the top player in the world, who just so happens to have five titles this year. She also has plenty of momentum on her side after winning championships in Stanford and Cincinnati and reaching the semis in Montreal.
In fact, Williams has won 12 of her past 13 matches.
When discussing takeaways from the U.S. Open hard-court tune-ups, Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated noted that Williams appears ready to move forward in Flushing Meadows, while potential rival Bouchard does not:
Serena Williams has firmly placed Wimbledon in her rearview mirror. She’s lost one match (to sister Venus, at the Rogers Cup in Montreal) since her surreal exit at the All England Club and won titles at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, Calif., and the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. We also learned that it’s going to take Eugenie Bouchard a little more time before winning her first Grand Slam title; she crashed and burned in the opening rounds of the Rogers Cup in Montreal and Cincinnati.
Williams herself seemed to also indicate she is moving forward with her new momentum, via Douglas Robson of USA Today: "I haven't been enjoying it as much. I put too much pressure on myself to like win, win, win, win, win. I need to step out of that and just look at the big picture."
The recent momentum is hard to overlook when projecting Williams’ overall performance at the U.S. Open, but it’s not the only reason she will ultimately capture the title. She has played her best tennis against the toughest competition, meaning that the difficult draw may not be a problem after all.
Who wins the U.S. Open?
Williams is a perfect 18-0 against the top 10 and hasn’t lost to Sharapova in a decade. As long as she can get past her early tests, she could be golden on the way to yet another Grand Slam.
Oh yeah, Williams is also the two-time defending champion at Flushing Meadows. She understands what it takes to win at the U.S. Open, has completely dominated her top competitors this year, is on an absolute roll on the court and has a historic resume in her back pocket.
Nothing is stopping Williams from winning an incredible 18th Grand Slam title.
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